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Malted Blonde Sourdough

This is a variation on the previous weekend sourdough recipe, but with some changes to make it higher in hydration. The result is a springier crumb—the inner texture of the loaf—and a thinner, crunchier crust.

The high protein and gluten content of the strong white bread flour works to counter the added hydration, making it easier to shape and build strength.

8a.m. SatMix the preferment*
4p.m.Mix the dough
4:30–6:30p.m.Stretch-and-folds
8:30p.m.Shaping
9p.m. Sat–8a.m. SunProofing
8a.m. SundayBaking

Ingredients (for 2 loaf yield)

Total flour960g
Total water744g
Hydration77.5%

Method

  1. Mixing the preferment. In a big bowl or tub, combine the 105/210/420g strong white bread flour (for 1, 2, or 4 loaf yield), cool water, and mature sourdough starter. Mix it up until all the ingredients are combined into what looks a bit like pancake batter.

    Cover and let rest for 8–12 hours at room temperature. After this time, the preferment should develop a lightly sour smell and some bubbles.

  2. Mixing the dough. After 8–12 hours, add to the preferment the remaining strong white bread flour, the malted blend flour, warm water, and salt. Mix it all up until thoroughly combined into a shaggy dough, then let rest for about 10 minutes.

  3. Stretch-and-fold. After resting, give the dough its first series of stretch-and-folds. Repeat the stretch-and-fold technique a total of 4 times, including the first one, at 20–30 minute intervals.

    After the stretch-and-folds are complete, leave the dough to rest in a warmish location for another 2–4 hours, until it has increased in volume by 50–100%

  4. Shaping. After the dough has increased in size, lightly flour a working surface with about 2ft of area cleared. Gently tip the dough out of its tub and onto the countertop, using a lightly floured hand to encourage it out if necessary. You don't want the dough to drop and allow its gases to escape, so take your time and do this gently.

    1. If you’re preparing more than one loaf, dust the center of the dough with a line of flour, then use a bench scraper or dough knife to cut and divide the dough.
    2. Grab the dough by the edge furthest from you, pull and stretch it up, then fold it 1/3 of the way across the rest of the dough. Repeat on the edge closest to you.
    3. Rotate the dough 90º and repeat on the remaining edges.
    4. Using a bench scraper to help lift the dough off the countertop, flip the dough so it lies seam-side-down on the countertop. Cupping your hands, gently tuck the bottom of the dough ball underneath itself, tightening the dough.
  5. Proofing. Dust a proofing basket or a towel-lined bowl with flour (preferably rice flour). Using the bench knife for assistance, gently lift your shaped dough ball and place it seam-side-up into the basket.

    Put the basket(s) into the fridge, where the dough will proof overnight. To help prevent the dough from drying out, put the baskets inside a plastic bag or place a plastic shower cap over them.

  6. Baking. After the dough has proofed for approximately 10–12 hours, preheat an oven to 475ºF/250ºC/220ºC fan with your dutch oven (or other bread-baking pan) inside for 45 minutes.

    1. Once the oven is pre-heated, remove your loaf from the fridge, cut a piece of parchment paper about 2× the size of the dough’s footprint, and lay it on top of the dough. Carefully turn the basket upside down (with one hand holding the basket and another holding the dough) and gently lower the dough onto the countertop.
    2. Remove the basket and bask in the glory of your loaf, ready for its final journey to the oven. Score it along the top using a lame or a very sharp knife.
    3. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Carefully lift your dough from the countertop and lower it into the pre-heated baking pan, taking extra care not to burn yourself or drop the dough from a significant height.
    4. Cover the pan with its lid and place it into the oven. Bake the bread for 30 minutes covered.
    5. After 30 minutes covered, remove the lid and bake for an additional 20–30 minutes, until the loaf is dark brown.
    6. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool on a wire rack or on its side. Wait at least 20–30 minutes before cutting into the bread; it’s still cooking!
  1. “Preferment” is often otherwise referred to as poolish or levain; basically you can think of it as a spinoff of your main sourdough starter.
  2. I like to use my oven with the light turned on to help speed this process up and encourage fermentation, but if in doubt, room temperature is a safe option.